7 Questions You Should Definitely Ask Yourself At The End Of Each Week
Sunday to Sunday. That is how I process a seven-day week. And if there's one thing that I'm a huge fan of, it's taking out a little time (whether it's on a Friday because that's the end of the work week or a Sunday) to process what the last week has been like. It's reflective, sure. Yet as I get older, the real benefit that I see in it is it helps me to be more accountable to how I use my time. Time that is valuable. Time that I can't get back. Time that serves a purpose. Yes y'all, time always serves a purpose.
If we're blessed, a Friday and Sunday are always steadily approaching. As you prepare for the ones that are right in front of you, I've got seven questions that can help you to come to the conclusion if the past week has indeed been time well spent (and valued).
1. Did I Hit All of My Goals?
If you struggle with feeling motivated or you're constantly asking yourself why you are bored all of the time, let me ask you this — do you set weekly short-term goals? There are tons of reasons why it's a really important thing to do. Goals provide direction. Goals help to keep you focused. Goals are good for cultivating self-confidence and boosting your self-esteem. Goals keep you from being stagnant (check out "6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If You're Stagnant (Or Not)"). Goals are what manifest progress.
While it is a good idea to have both short- and long-term goals, when it comes to processing how a seven-day cycle went, focus most on the short-term ones that you set, then be honest with yourself about whether you reached them or not. Oh, and to keep yourself from getting too overwhelmed, try and only have 1-3 per day. For instance, your goals could be to clean out your closet, get your quarterly taxes together (freelancers know all about that) and to catch-up with one of your long-distance girlfriends on the phone. Honestly, knocking all of this out could take a couple of days on their own, so you don't want to write down so many things that your list becomes unrealistic or overwhelms you. You just need enough to where, once Friday or Sunday rolls around, you can literally pat yourself on the back because you've got evidence that you set goals and then met them.
2. Should I Have Set Better Boundaries?
Speaking of feeling overwhelmed, it's important to keep in mind that if you're feeling that way, it's a pretty solid sign that you have poor boundaries somewhere — even if it's with yourself. Remember that a boundary is nothing more than a limit and since a definition of overwhelmed is "loaded, filled, or addressed with an excessive amount of anything", being in this kind of headspace means that something's gotta give.
Maybe you need to tell people "no" more often (check out "The Art Of Saying 'No' To Things You Don't Want To Do"). Maybe you need to put yourself on a sleep schedule so that you can get more rest. Maybe it's time to leave work at 5 instead of at 8 (can I get an "amen"?). Maybe you need to turn the notifications off of your phone. Maybe you need to stop letting your mom and/or friends and/or church members pressure you into doing things that you really don't want (or need) to do. Maybe you need to stop coddling your kids or internalizing resentment towards your husband because you feel like you are doing most of the work in the home. Maybe you need to pamper yourself more which requires pushing some other things to the side.
Listen, the possibilities here are endless. I'm just saying that boundaries are beneficial and every week that comes to a close, it's wise to (re)evaluate if you set some and then honored them — or if you didn't have many at all. Sometimes it can be difficult to set limits. Just remember that it's hard to flourish as much as you should without some being set in place.
3. What Did I Learn?
Back when I used to choose to remain in toxic "friendships" with people (because remaining in toxicity is a choice; self-accountability will teach you that), something that helped to break me free from it was asking myself if I was becoming a better person as a result of having certain individuals in my life. Because here's the thing about this particular point — while healthy and toxic folks can both teach you things, the huge difference is when something or one is good for you, you will constantly evolve while dealing with unhealthy stuff is basically like Chinese water torture in the sense that the same realization will be knocking you in the head until you finally get it. It's kind of like going to school, learning a lot of different things and graduating vs. being in the same school, still not progressing in one particular class and remaining in the same grade for years on end.
There's a Chinese proverb that simply says, "Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think." If you've gone seven days and you can't think of at least three new things that life has taught you, be more proactive about being around people, places, things and ideas that can change the narrative. Learning is a part of growth and growth is what evolves you into becoming a better person.
4. How Did I Improve?
Some people need to leave their job — quick, fast and in a hurry. They know it too. The main reason why is because the work environment that they are currently in isn't doing much to improve them. The same goes for some people and their dating dynamic. And then there are those with poor lifestyle habits. Although Rome wasn't built in a day, we all need to strive to make daily improvements so that, by the end of each week, we can recognize some noticeable developments.
And just what are some indications that you are indeed improving in your life? You're becoming better at holding yourself accountable. You are clearer about what you want as much as what you don't want. You strive to break bad habits by replacing them with better ones. You value your time more. You don't put pride before progress. You look for things that will bring peace and balance to your world. You can tell that you are healing in various areas where you were once super-sensitive or unforgiving.
A good example of this point is, a few weeks ago, someone who used to hurt me, relentlessly so, tried a stunt that caused me to literally laugh in response. At first, I was like, "Why did the universe cause me to witness this at all?" and then I realized, "How would I know that I was 'good' without it transpiring?" That was a sign of clear improvement. That said, one of my favorite definitions of improve is "to bring into a more desirable or excellent condition". By the time the end of the week rolls around, make sure that you can clearly articulate something about you and/or your world that is more desirable and excellent than it was, just a week ago. It can give you a boost of inner strength that you probably didn't know that you needed.
5. Am I Getting Closer to My Long-Term Plans?
Wanna go overseas within the next six months? Wanna start a business? Wanna have kids in the next couple of years? Wanna buy a house or a car? Wanna move to another state? Wanna lose 50 pounds? Wanna get another degree? Wanna learn another language? Wanna save $5,000? Wanna get into a healthy and committed relationship? Cool. Next question — what did you do this week to get closer to your long-term plans? Because it's always important to remember that long-term goals aren't reached without taking small consistent steps.
This is why I think it's essential to write down clear long-term plans and then devote some time, each week, towards making them manifest. I promise you that if you do this on a consistent basis, you'll look up and, this time last year, your life will look really different. All because you did something intentional about your plans on a weekly basis.
6. What Did I Do (or Am Going to Do) to Reward Myself?
A place that I've been parked at, for a minute now, is how important it is to focus on what makes me healthy instead of making happy so much of a priority in my life. Let me tell it, happiness has become a god to some people to the point where they don't honor commitments, they make poor decisions and they become totally self-consumed, all in the name of "doing what makes me happy". Meanwhile, maturity teaches us that sometimes, in order to do what's healthiest, most beneficial, the best overall, we're not going to be happy all of the time. And that's OK. Better than that even.
That's where this question comes in. Say that you hate your job yet you don't want to settle at the next one, so you're putting a one-year plan together to get outta there. Or maybe you're ready to get into better shape, you loathe working out, but you've put yourself on a six-month plan. Maybe you're just getting over a break-up and it's a fight to not call that joker — I mean, guy — on an hourly basis. Quitting immediately. Avoiding the gym and sitting on your couch with a pint of Blue Bell ice cream. Hitting him up for some crazy ex sex — all of these things may bring forth some immediate gratification. Still, none of it is a wise move in the long run.
This is where rewarding yourself comes in. I actually like the definition of reward a lot because it means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc." A reward is something that is earned for some sort of effort that you put in somewhere. And I'm pretty sure that there is some sort of service, merit or hardship that you endured within a seven-day, period. For that, make sure you reward yourself, without reservation or apology. You deserve it, sis. All of us do.
7. How Am I Gonna Rest This Weekend?
I've shared before (check out "What To Do When You Don't Know How To Chill Out") that I was raised to be a Sabbath observer (Friday sunset thru Saturday sunset). Although I'm no longer affiliated with the Christian denomination that taught me that, I still rest on the Sabbath to this day and I will do it until I take my last breath. There is something really dope about getting off of the grid for 24 hours without reservation or apology. And because I do it as a spiritual practice (Exodus 20:8-11), it restores me in ways that nothing else really can.
A part of being productive is doing things. Another part is knowing how to rest because when you stop working; when you veg out and watch a movie; when you unplug from technology; when you decide to sleep in; when you choose not to answer for phone for a while; when you read a book; when you lie on your couch and look up at the ceiling while listening to a favorite playlist; when you meditate; when you sit in the tub for an hour — when you do anything that cultivates peace, ease, calm, leisure and downtime, you refuel your body to do what needs to be done…later.
Some of y'all work so much that you've gotta plan to rest — and you know it. By ending your week with this final question, it reminds you that rest is not a privilege; it needs to be a top priority. Every week. Just like everything else. So, please make sure that you do. The "answer" to how to do the next week well is attached directly to it.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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